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CLOSER CONSIDERATION OF OUR HIGH PRIEST
Victor M. Eskew
A. Jesus was introduced as our high priest in Hebrews 2:17.
Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in all things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.
B. Now the inspired writer wants his readers to seriously consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus (Heb. 3:1).
a. Strong (2657): to observe fully
b. Thayer: to perceive, observe, understand, to consider attentively, fix one’s eyes or mind upon
2. He will help them to do this by comparing and contrasting the High Priest with the great Law-giver of the Old Testament, Moses.
a. Who was faithful…as also Moses (Heb. 3:2).
b. …this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses (Heb. 3:3).
c. Moses…as a servant…but Christ as a son… (Heb. 3:5-6).
d. Wacaster: Few characters in the Old Testament have as illustrious history as Moses. From his infancy and early childhood, to his appointment of his commis-sion as legislator of Israel, this man exemplifies all the traits of a great leader and faithful servant of God. It would be difficult, as one author put it, “to find in the records either of profane or sacred history, an individual whose character is so well fitted at once to excite attachment and command vener-ation, and whose history is so replete at once with interest and instruction.’ Yet as great as Moses was, the apostle calls upon his readers to ‘consider’ One Who far excels this great leader of Israel; One Who was, and is, the immeasur-able superior of Moses” (98-99).
C. This section contains three sections:
1. Consider (Heb. 3:1)
2. Compare and Contrast (Heb. 3:2-6a)
3. Confidence (Heb. 3:6b)
I. CONSIDER (Heb. 3:1)
Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus.
A. Description of Readers
a. Strong (40): sacred, physically pure, morally blameless or religious, ceremonially clean
b. Wacaster: something set aside from profane or everyday use
1) Related by means of the same Father
2) Sharing a bond of affection
b. Having a kinsman relationship both to the writer and to each other
3. Partakers of the heavenly calling
1) Strong (3353): participant, that is, a sharer, by implication an associate :- fellow, partner
2) Thayer: sharing in, a partner
1) Strong (2032): above the sky :- celestial, in heaven, high
2) Thayer: existing in heaven, the heavenly regions, of heavenly origin or nature
1) Strong (2821): an invitation
2) Thayer: a calling, an invitation, of the divine invitation to embrace salvation of God
1) An invitation was extended to them from heaven.
2) That call came through the Gospel (II Thess. 2:14)
Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
3) They accepted the invitation when they obeyed the Gospel’s demands. Thus, they became “the called out ones,” the church.
4) This calling is more than an initial response to an invitation. It is a call to a way of life.
4. Individuals who made a profession
1) Strong (3671): acknowledgment
2) Thayer: profession…objectively: profession [confession], i.e., what one professes [confesses]
1) The author is here reminding them that they had made the good confession (See Matt. 10:32-33; Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-37).
2) “They had in their confession ‘signed a notarized agreement that He is the Son of the living God, and that as He has spoken, we will give immediate and wholehearted acknowledgment through constant obedience and service’” (Wright as quoted by Wacaster, 103)
3) “This word ‘confession’ appears throughout the epistle and suggests urgency in fidelity on the part of these Hebrews (cf. 4:14; 10:23). Were they now ready to disavow that claim? And if so, upon what grounds?” (Wacaster, 104).
B. The Duty of Readers
a. What is about to be said is based upon things already written in Hebrews 1-2.
b. The readers needed to keep these things in mind as they continued into the study ahead.
1) Literally: “with the stars,” the astronomers closely examine the stars and their majesty, thus, they are “with the stars”
2) Strong (2657): to observe fully :- behold, perceive
3) Thayer: to perceive, observe, understand, to consider attentively, fix one’s eyes or mind upon
b. The author was calling for an intense reexamination of Jesus Christ as a preventative to their present apostasy.
1) As an Apostle
- Strong (652): a delegate, specifically an ambassador of the gospel :- he that is sent
- Thayer: a delegate, messenger, one sent with orders
- Jesus was sent by God (Gal. 4:4; I John 4:9-10)
But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law.
- Jesus was sent with orders from God (John 12:49)
For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.
- The position implies authority from the one who did the sending that was inherent in the one sent.
- The writer is setting up the contrast between Christ and Moses, both were sent by God.
2) As the High Priest of our profession
- Strong (749): the high priest…chief priest
- Thayer: chief priest, high priest…the chief of priests
- The Latin word for “priest” is “pontifex.”
+ Definition: a bridge builder
+ The priest builds a bridge between men and God. The priest must speak TO men FOR God and TO God FOR men.
I. COMPARE AND CONTRAST (Heb. 3:2-6a).
A. Comparison (Heb. 3:2)
Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house.
1. Jesus was faithful to the Father.
a. As one appointed by another, there are two elements to consider.
1) A trust committed
2) The proper discharge of that trust
a) To make or do
b) To make…constitute or appoint one to anything, to appoint or ordain one
2) The Bible often says that Jesus was sent by the Father (Matt. 10:40; John 3:17, 34; 4:34; 5:23; 10:36; 12:49; 17:3).
For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.
c) Evidence of Jesus’ faithfulness:
- As a 12 year old boy (Luke 2:49)
And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? Wist ye not that I should be about my Father’s business?
- During His earthly ministry (John 6:38)
For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.
- On the cross of Calvary (Matt. 26:39)
And he went a little father, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.
2. As Moses was in all his house
a. As: adverb meaning to the same degree or amount…when considered in a specified form or relation
b. Moses had been appointed to his position by God (Exo. 3:10).
Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.
c. Moses was faithful in the discharge of his trust.
1) Numbers 12:7
My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house.
2) Hebrews 11:24-29
By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible. Through faith he kept the Passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them. By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.
d. In all his house
1) The word “house” is used 7 times in five verses in this section.
a) Strong (3624): a dwelling…by implication a family
b) Thayer: the family of God…of the church of the Old and New Testament
c) Wacaster: the author uses a figure of speech in which the container (the house) is used to represent the contents (the family of God). A man’s family resides in his house.
d) Both Jesus and Moses were faithful over the house, that is, the people of God. They faithfully discharged their trust given to them.
B. Contrasts (Heb. 3:3-6a)
1. Builder versus a member of the house (Heb. 3:3-4)
For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house. For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God.
a. Jesus was counted worthy of more glory than Moses.
1) This expression immediately sets Jesus above Moses.
a) Counted worthy: deemed, entitled, judged worthy, deserving
b) More glory: dignity, honor, praise, a more exalted state
3) Why Jesus is worthy of more glory and honor than Moses could be the topic of an entire lesson. Our writer only gives two reasons.
b. Jesus is the builder of the house.
1) Builder (2680)
a) To construct, erect, create
b) To prepare thoroughly…with the idea of adorning and equipping with all things necessary (HGTV: Dream House)
2) When man sees an exceptionally beautiful house, he gives praise to the builder and/or architect. The beauty of the house is a reflection of the wisdom of the builder.
3) Wacaster: “Though Moses may have been appointed as a leader of Israel, it is never said of him that he ‘built’ or was in any way the be-ginning of Israel; he was not the founder, but simply a member of the family. But as far as Christ is concerned, it is said that He is the ‘builder’ of the church, God’s spiritual family (cf. Matt. 16:18; Eph. 2:20)” (107).
c. Jesus is more than the builder of the church, He is the Creator of all things (Heb. 3:4).
For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God.
1) Two passages that indicate that Jesus was involved in the Creation.
a) John 1:3
All things were made by him; and without him was not made anything that was made.
b) Colossians 1:16-17
For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
2) Wacaster: “The writer is showing that Christ is superior because He is the one who built everything, physical and spiritual, something neither Moses nor angels ever did” (109).
d. IMPORTANT NOTE: Here we see the writer using an argument for the existence of God called the Teleological Argument.
1) This is the argument from design. If something exists that exhibits design, it logically follows that there was a designer.
2) For every house is builded by some man…
3) We see the universe and its colossal design, and, it, too, had a builder.
a) A watch does not come from an explosion in a metal factory.
b) The universe did not come from a big bang that happened billions of years ago.
4) Numerous passages set forth the teleological argument.
a) Psalm 19:1-3
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.
b) Psalm 139:14
I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.
c) Romans 1:19-20
Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.
2. Son versus servant (Heb. 3:5-6a)
And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; but Christ as a son over his own house…
a. Definition of servant:
1) There are two Greek words translated servant in the New Testament.
a) One emphasizes the position of a servant (doulos).
b) The other focuses upon the performance of a service (therapohn).
2) It is the latter one that describes Moses here. He was a merciful servant as he performed his duties as the leader of Israel.
b. He was faithful in all his house.
1) As a leader, many duties were assigned to him.
2) He fulfilled his role in every aspect.
3) LESSON: Faithfulness does not just involve the responsibilities we like. It involves carrying out all the duties assigned to a person.
c. Moses position and all that he was over was a “testimony” of things to come.
1) Testimony (3142): something evidential
2) The OT economy was evidence of things to come in the New Testament, including the Christ.
A BRIEF COMPARISON
Old Testament New Testament
Old Law New Law
Children of Israel Children of God
Sacrifices Jesus Christ
Wilderness Christian life
d. In contrast to Moses was Jesus Christ. He was not a servant; He was “a son over his own house.”
1) A son is greater than a servant.
2) He is also the owner of the house. It is “his own house.”
C. Confidence (Heb. 3:6b)
…whose house we are, if we hold fast the confidence and rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.
1. The church is the house of God.
a. I Timothy 3:15
But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
b. Christians are the living stones in this house (I Pet. 2:5).
Ye also, as lively stones are built up a spiritual house.
2. NOTE: Our place in the house of God is conditional.
a. “If” we hold fast.
b. Wacaster: “Such conditional statements appear throughout the letter, a fact that is most significant. To our knowledge no other letter in the New Testament uses such repeated instances of this ‘conditionality’ as does Hebrews. This note of contingency runs all through the Epistle. We are God’s house if we do not desert. Why theologians cannot see this is beyond our ability to grasp” (111).
c. The inspired writer tells us we must “hold fast.”
a) Strong (2722): to hold down (fast)
b) Thayer: to hold fast, keep secure, keep firm possession of
c) Vincent: the holding one’s course toward
2) Two things that must be hold fast:
- Strong (3954): assurance
- Thayer: free and fearless confidence, cheerful courage, boldness, assurance
- Freedom in speaking, unreservedness in speech…openly, frankly, without concealment, without ambiguity or circumlocution (roundabout way of speaking)
b) Rejoicing of hope
- Rejoicing (2745): a boast, that in which one glories or can glory
- Hope (1680): expectation of good…joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation
- Bruce: Christians live by faith and not by sight; but while this hope is in things unseen, it is something to exult in, not to be ashamed of.
3) LESSON: Danger, here we learn two of the first steps one takes toward apostasy.
a) The loss of boldness in the face of the enemy.
b) A failure to rejoice in one’s hope of salvation.
c) Two other elements are given to us in Romans 1:21.
Because that when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
4) How are these two things to be held: FIRM
a) Strong (949): stable :- firm, stedfast, sure
b) Thayer: stable, fast, firm
5) How long are they to be hold firm? UNTIL THE END
a) Strong (5056): conclusion of an act or state
b) Thayer: end, termination, the limit at which a thing ceases to be…that by which a thing is finished, its close
A. Christ is greater than Moses.
B. We are part of Christ’s house.
C. We must hold fast and firm until the end!